The federal government has decided to provide emergency aid amounting to 200 million euros for victims of the flood. But will that be enough? And how do flood victims get their money? Seven questions, seven answers.
One week after the flood disaster with more than 170 deaths, the federal cabinet approved an emergency aid package. The money is intended to help people in particular need. In addition, the worst damage to buildings, roads and bridges is to be repaired. Will that be enough?
How much money do the federal and state governments give in total?
The federal government is initially providing 200 million euros as emergency aid. Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) already indicated that there could be more. After the cabinet meeting he said in Berlin: “We will do what is necessary.” Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) also emphasized that money would not fail.
The federal government wants to double the emergency aid from the federal states. The actual sum can therefore be higher. Because North Rhine-Westphalia has already announced that it will provide 200 million euros, Bavaria wants to give up to 50 million euros first. Rhineland-Palatinate has not yet announced how much money is needed there.
After the current emergency aid, a development fund is planned. The federal and state governments want to discuss this at the end of the month or at the beginning of August in a special meeting of the Prime Minister’s Conference. Not only the federal states affected by the flood should then pay into this fund, but all of them. Part of the money for aid and development could also flow from the EU to Germany.
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Who pays the money?
The affected federal states are now clarifying the details. In the past, the districts usually organized the payout. Finance Minister Scholz and Interior Minister Seehofer emphasized that the emergency aid should be granted unbureaucratically – without an income check.
How quickly do flood victims get help?
“I hope that it will be a matter of days,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) yesterday during a visit to the badly damaged city of Bad Münstereifel in North Rhine-Westphalia. With today’s cabinet decision, it is definitely clear that the federal and state governments will jointly provide emergency aid. Some cities and municipalities have made advance payments and have already paid out money in cash.
What is the flood aid like in Bavaria?
The Free State wants to provide up to 50 million euros in emergency aid. Each household can receive up to 5,000 euros, double that in the case of oil damage. If insurance against the damage had been possible, Bavaria would only pay half. The aid packages for companies and agriculture are still being put together. There should also be a hardship fund.
The emergency aid from the Free State is thus higher than, for example, in Rhineland-Palatinate. Up to 3,500 euros of immediate aid are available there for each household.
What do insurance companies cover?
Bavaria’s Finance Minister Albert Füracker (CSU) made it clear yesterday that emergency aid and insurance benefits will be offset against each other. So, people may have to repay the state’s emergency aid later when their insurance company pays for the damage.
According to the Association of the Insurance Industry, not even half of the buildings in Germany are insured against natural hazards such as floods. Overall, the association expects insured flood damage of four to five billion euros. These are the first preliminary estimates and they only affect the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. Damage in Saxony and Bavaria is therefore not yet included in the estimates. The association assumes that 2021 will be one of the most damaging years since the floods in 2013. At that time, the insured loss was 9.3 billion euros.
Federal Interior Minister Seehofer also emphasizes that it will not work without the help of the state. “People pay taxes for that, so that they can be helped in such situations. Not everything is insurable.” Finance Minister Scholz advocates not asking heartlessly and cynically about insurance coverage in this situation.
What happens to the flood aid donations?
More than six million euros in private donations have already been received on the donation account of the Rhineland-Palatinate state government. The money is to be distributed through the district administrations.
Aid organizations such as Johanniter, Malteser and Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund are supported with donations to the Alliance Action Germany Helps. The alliance raised almost 160 million euros during the floods in 2013. It assumes that the willingness to donate is similarly high this year.
The German Central Institute for Social Issues encourages people to donate money. It can be used more flexibly and efficiently than donations in kind. After all, they first have to be sorted and distributed.
Is the flood aid enough?
After the floods in 2013, the federal and state governments provided eight billion euros for the construction; So far, according to finance minister Scholz, six billion of this has flowed out.
The money is still being built today, eight years later. In Saxony-Anhalt, for example, dikes on the Elbe are being rehabilitated. The country announced in the spring that the money from the construction fund had been almost completely used up. The example shows, however, that the structure is a long-term matter.
The Deutsche Bahn alone is likely to have huge expenses. In North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, around 600 kilometers of new railway lines have to be built or renovated.
This time, the construction after the flood is likely to be significantly more expensive – and that’s not just due to the damage. The prices for building materials such as wood and steel have risen sharply recently. Another problem: The trade lacks skilled workers to process all orders quickly.